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Moving from Montreal to L.A.


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#1 Jean-Marc Plante

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 04:26 PM

The title says it. Is it a good move? 

 

I already work in one of the biggest rental houses in Montreal (which is know as 'The Hollywood of the North') and pretty much perfectly know my way around all big camera cannons, lenses and accessories, lights, dollies, etc. (except Panavision, we dont have those around here.)

 

I would like to get a Visa and work in L.A., learning light and getting job as an Electro. Is it possible for an outsider, french canadian, to actually make it and find job?

 

I'd like to have your impressions on that.


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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 08:23 PM

How on earth will you get a work VISA for the USA? Impossible I'm afraid unless you marry an American.  

 

The O-1 is for aliens of extraordinary ability in the film business.  Someone who wants to work at a rental house would never qualify.  Sorry to tell you the bad news, but getting a work VISA for film in the USA is impossible.

 

Oh and BTW, Montreal is not "Hollywood North," Toronto, is "Hollywood North."  One day you folks in Montreal and Vancouver will learn that.  We employ more people in film and TV than all the rest of Canada combined.  :)

 

R,


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#3 John E Clark

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 09:08 PM

How on earth will you get a work VISA for the USA? Impossible I'm afraid unless you marry an American.  

 

The O-1 is for aliens of extraordinary ability in the film business.  Someone who wants to work at a rental house would never qualify.  Sorry to tell you the bad news, but getting a work VISA for film in the USA is impossible.

 

Oh and BTW, Montreal is not "Hollywood North," Toronto, is "Hollywood North."  One day you folks in Montreal and Vancouver will learn that.  We employ more people in film and TV than all the rest of Canada combined.  :)

 

R,

 

One could get a student visa, and attend some institution of learning. But that would not permit one to 'work', and so, one would have to have some other means to pay for living expenses. Perhaps there is some 'grant/studentloan' type deal in Canada, Quebec, or the like which could sponsor such study.

 

And... should you actually get into the US by some hook or crook without a work visa... don't answer up for ads for actors who have an 'authentic canadian accent'... A few years back the Immigration service did a sting to find canadians working without permits and used just such an ad...

 

There is a classification called "NAFTA Professional", which allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the US, provided they are providing 'professional' services. I would presume a Director of Photography would be a 'professional', and that one has an employer offering employment at the time of entry into the US.

 

So, rather than being a 'rental house specialist'... if you could find a production company willing to employ you as DoP or perhaps Camera Operator (there may be union issues on either point... but that's not part of the US immigration status regulations...), you may be able to work in the US.

 

In any case this would all have to be done via an immigration lawyer to confirm all the regulations are satisfied..

 

As for 'Coming to Hollywood'... I know there are a number of people here who have made a succesful career in Hollywood, or in So. California in general in the 'movie business'... but from someone who has lived about 100 miles from Downtown Hollywood, it is an awful place to attempt to be successful. If those competing for the various limited work opportunities don't smack you down... the studio/production companies will do the deed.

 

Perhaps 1000s come to 'Hollywood' each year, perhaps mostly actors... but other skill sets as well, and many end up either doing something else while they wait for their 'call', or end up going somewhere else because the call never came.

 

From my point of view... I'll paraphrase Julius Caesar... "It is better to be a head DoP in a small town in Quebec, than be a Second Cameraman in Hollywood"...

 

I of course may hold a rather pessimistic view of things... perhaps others are more Pollyanna like than I...

 

As it is thought there was a film 'industry' in Montreal... now as noted in the previous post, there is the 'superior/artist' type visa that allows major people outside the US in to perform work. So, if one became a significant Montreal DoP... well, then Hollywood may be a real possibility.


Edited by John E Clark, 10 December 2014 - 09:10 PM.

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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 10:31 PM

There is a classification called "NAFTA Professional", which allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the US, provided they are providing 'professional' services. I would presume a Director of Photography would be a 'professional', and that one has an employer offering employment at the time of entry into the US.

 

Actually no, there is a list of occupations and DOP is definitely not on that list. Plus you need a min of a BA to qualify for the jobs on that list.  There is nothing for film workers, outside of the O-1, and you need quite a resume for that plus a job offer etc.

 

Here's the list the permit is called a TN, nope nothing for DOPs on there, or anything related to film and TV:

http://canada.usemba...d-by-nafta.html

 

However, "plant breeder" is on the list, any experience in breeding plants?

 

R,


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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 10:35 PM

And... should you actually get into the US by some hook or crook without a work visa... don't answer up for ads for actors who have an 'authentic canadian accent'... A few years back the Immigration service did a sting to find canadians working without permits and used just such an ad...

 

That's actually pretty funny, if I saw an ad like that I would know immediately it was an INS trick.

 

R,


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#6 Martin Hawkes

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 03:39 AM


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#7 Jean-Marc Plante

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 06:06 AM

 

 

Oh and BTW, Montreal is not "Hollywood North," Toronto, is "Hollywood North."  One day you folks in Montreal and Vancouver will learn that.  We employ more people in film and TV than all the rest of Canada combined.  :)

 

R,

 Please don't go butthurt on me... I am only taking some info as I have absolutely no clue how immigration and international work, works.

 

Montreal and it's film industry artists/technicians have a very good reputation, it's not just a 'small town' in Quebec.

Are there any union equivalence between Canada and the USA?


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#8 Albion Hockney

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 10:18 AM

If you are canadian you CAN come to america. If you want to do it long term at somepoint and eventually permanent that is another story....what I am saying is it is possible and a lot of people do it. The specfics I dont know much.

 

 

That said your probably better off coming to LA with some work or building a stronger resume then rental tech in montreal before hand.

 

 

everyone says different cities in canade is the hollywood of the north. People used to say that about vancouver too.


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#9 Jean-Marc Plante

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 10:26 AM

I am working on my resume, have a lot of 'major' local production, series, features, in it. Thank for the help everyone!


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#10 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 11:13 AM

As far as I know, the only Visa available for work in the Film & TV industry is the O-1 Visa. It's expensive and hard to get. No matter how good your resume, unless you are a DP, or other head of department, you will not be eligible for the O-1.


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#11 John E Clark

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 12:02 PM

Oh, yeah, on the topic of 'marrying a US citizen'... I'm going to make the assumption of 'heterosexual' marriage... don't know what the homosexual marriage figures into current INS considerations...

 

But it is a long process as well, and may not have 'happy' results. These days the review process takes about a year, and includes such things as tax returns, interviews, endless waiting, and who knows, if the finances aren't there, the couple will have to find a sponsor anyway.

 

That said, marrying a US citizen is a frequently used path to a 'green' card.

 

There is a 'funny' movie that may be dated these days... "Green Card"(1990)...


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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 12:26 PM

If you are canadian you CAN come to america. If you want to do it long term at somepoint and eventually permanent that is another story....what I am saying is it is possible and a lot of people do it. The specfics I dont know much.

 

 

That said your probably better off coming to LA with some work or building a stronger resume then rental tech in montreal before hand.

 

 

everyone says different cities in canade is the hollywood of the north. People used to say that about vancouver too.

 

Sure as a "tourist" for six months at a time yes, but there is no simple way for a Canadian to just get a work permit and work in film in the USA.  There's the O-1, that has been discussed, but that is next to impossible for a relative new comer to obtain.

 

A Canadian cannot legally work in the USA while they are there as a tourist.  In fact I would choose my words carefully when going through US immigration in Canada if you're a film worker.  If you tell them, "I'm going to LA to look at job prospects in the movie industry."  Excellent chance they won't let you in.

 

And the term Hollywood North came about in the early 80s, when a lot of US production started to shift into Toronto, primarily at that time lured by the low CDN dollar.

 

R,


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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 12:38 PM

While we're on this topic, I have a good producer friend who is Canadian and lived in the USA without any sort of US VISA for over 20 years.  He finally got busted by US immigration at the airport trying to re-enter the US on a return ticket.  So he was banned from entering the US until he got some sort of legal permit in place.  He was not able to go "home" for over two years while the mess got sorted out and he had a house in LA, plus a wife and kids there.

 

Funny thing is....I told him several times, eventually they'll bust you for trying to re-enter the US on a return ticket, and sure enough they finally did and it threw his life into chaos.  He was convinced he could live and work in the USA because he was Canadian.  Well to the US government a Canadian is a foreigner just like anyone else.

 

R,


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#14 Mark Dunn

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 01:02 PM

Pleased to see I wouldn't need one.

The Australians make us get one, though.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 11 December 2014 - 01:03 PM.

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#15 John E Clark

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 02:49 PM


A Canadian cannot legally work in the USA while they are there as a tourist.  In fact I would choose my words carefully when going through US immigration in Canada if you're a film worker.  If you tell them, "I'm going to LA to look at job prospects in the movie industry."  Excellent chance they won't let you in.

 

 

I actually did have to have a chat with Canadian immigration for answering on the form that I was presenting at a professional photo convention... and taking in the sights of Vancouver and surrounding area...

 

Although I must say, the canadians were much more pleasant than their US counterparts, when being asked where/what/why questions.

 

Some people think that US citizens get some sort of free pass on entry to the US... other than the visa question... I think they are pretty egalitarian in their inquisitioning of people coming through the gate.


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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 04:32 PM

Pleased to see I wouldn't need one.

The Australians make us get one, though.

 

One what? A VISA to enter the USA?  As a visitor, sure.  But if you mean to work, not so.  A visitor VISA and a work VISA are two very different things.

 

R,


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#17 Chris Millar

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 04:59 PM

I remember working for a discovery channel documentary many moons ago in the UK organizing permits for the UK DoP and crew to shoot/work temporarily in USA, Canada and Zanzibar.

 

At the time and by far, Canada was the hardest nut to crack bureaucracy wise...

 

Not saying much I guess - things change :)


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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 06:57 PM

At the time and by far, Canada was the hardest nut to crack bureaucracy wise...

 

Does not surprise me one bit.

 

R,


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